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Leaving Salem

Leaving Salem

Grace Archives

Behind Every Beautiful Thing

posted by ronniemcbrayer

More than 120 years ago this week, Vincent Van Gogh died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. In his short life, Van Gogh produced hundreds of watercolor paintings, sketches, and prints – some of which are the most valued in […]

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“Just Who Do You Think You Are?”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Not long after I moved to the beach I stopped by my favorite coffee shop. I had visited this café often while on vacation over the years, but I was now visiting it as a local. The early spring sun […]

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That Jiving Jacob

posted by ronniemcbrayer

His name was Jacob, and he lived up to his name. “Jacob” means “heel grabber,” or “one who causes others to stumble.” Not very flattering. Today we might use words like trickster, swindler, shyster, or con-artist. Jacob was the kind […]

Raised Right

posted by ronniemcbrayer

When I was growing up, church for me was not a social activity. It was not a weekly event or a spiritual distraction to assist you with the trials of life. Church was a non-negotiable obligation. Sunday School, Sunday morning […]

Love, Mom

posted by ronniemcbrayer

I was smacked away from the dinner table on one occasion. Calm down, I was never abused, not even close. But my parents did believe in the effectiveness of that proverb, “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” Thus, I was […]

Jackrabbits and Jethro

posted by ronniemcbrayer

My wife Cindy is a jackrabbit. Do you know what that means? I’ll explain. Cindy and I are bike riders. No, not the motorized, belching exhaust type, but the human-powered, pedaling type. We are bicycle riders. We have learned that bicycle […]

The Last Loaf of Bread

posted by ronniemcbrayer

“If there was one last loaf of bread in this town it would be mine.” I swear that’s what he said. He being a rather pretentious member of the clergy, stating how God would take care of him should the […]

“If It’s Going To Be…It Won’t Be Me”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Have you ever heard of a fellow named Sisyphus? I know. His name sounds like a communicable disease or something like that. But in Greek mythology, Sisyphus was a great king and founder of the ancient city of Corinth. In […]

The Blue Bomber

posted by ronniemcbrayer

I love it when my children ask me to take them to school. It doesn’t happen often, so if I can take them, I do. Why? Because I know there will come a day when they will be far too […]

Be Afraid…Be Very Afraid

posted by ronniemcbrayer

John Steele was my first principal. Broad-shouldered and tall, he was the kind of man you might see in football pads on Sunday afternoon, not one walking the hallways of an elementary school. To go with his massive frame, he […]

“From Jesus to Jesus”

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Sometimes, rather than being the one behind the pulpit, I get a chance  to listen to someone else wax eloquently about God, life, grace and faith. Not long ago, anticipating a treat, I sat in on a talk by a […]

For Charles

posted by ronniemcbrayer

You never knew my friend Charles. You would have loved him. He was a husband, father, English teacher, social worker, canoeist, bluegrass player, therapist, connoisseur of green-apple moonshine, and a good friend. He spent the last decade of his life […]

The Greatest Gift

posted by ronniemcbrayer

On this day in history, October 18, 1970, the lives of Roy and Rita McBrayer changed forever. Roy, a shy boy and a month shy of his twenty-second year, and Rita, even younger, were two redneck kids weaving their way […]

The Preacher

posted by ronniemcbrayer

I grew up with a lot of religious rules. To violate these rules was to subject oneself to the violence of God. You may be familiar with these rules. No drinking, no smoking, no dancing, no mixed-bathing (a prospect that […]

Back in the Saddle Again

posted by ronniemcbrayer

When my wife insisted that I accompany her to the gym I thought it was a good idea. She had been pressing me about it for some time, and combined with my recent lipid readings I finally relented and agreed […]

Waste Not, Want Not: Just Do What You Can

posted by ronniemcbrayer

“What a waste.” When a young person dies recklessly and unnecessarily, friends gather and respond, “What a waste.” When I spend an afternoon waiting and waiting (and waiting) at the dentist’s office or at the bank I conclude, “What a […]

Fools and Drunks

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Marvin had spent more than two weeks in the hospital trying to clear up a clogged lung. When the final test results arrived, he had more than respiratory issues. He had cancer. Marvin wasn’t surprised. I visited him as he […]

No “Decision” Required

posted by ronniemcbrayer

Allow me to introduce you to my friend Susie. She is a nurse, and a very good one. Professional, skilled, and tough. If it can take place within the constricted space of a hospital room, she’s probably seen it. Not […]

Coffee Shop Eschatology

posted by ronniemcbrayer

I seem to have more epiphanies in coffee shops than in church sanctuaries. I don’t know why this is. Maybe it is the combination of early morning air, a clear head, and the aroma of boiling java that opens me […]

Previous Posts

An Apple Pie Could Change the World...Or at Least Change Yours
When my wife’s boss first moved to our small town it was more than a little culture shock. Raised on the slick windy streets ofChicago, he had mastered the ways of the urban jungle, but this experience had done little to prepare him for the Deep South. He had never eaten grits. He did not know wh

posted 4:16:42am Sep. 04, 2012 | read full post »

Learning to Let Go
There are things in our life that are very, very good. Money, family, jobs, church, possessions, friends: These are all good and in many cases irreplaceable, but you cannot build your life on these things and expect your life to sustain itself. These can all turn to sand. Money vanishes a lot quicke

posted 4:12:16am Aug. 31, 2012 | read full post »

Getting an Education
My children have returned to school; let the rejoicing begin. But I don't know why they go to school. They know everything already, just like I did when I was their age. See, when I was a kid, I really thought my father was something. I looked up to him as if he was a superhero who could leap tall b

posted 4:05:34am Aug. 28, 2012 | read full post »

Step into the Water
My youngest son was baptized recently. I had the honor of dipping his little shaggy head under the river that runs near our home. It wasn't quite like my own baptism, however. When I was his age, however, I was terrified of water. I didn’t learn to swim until I was an adult, so commanded by Jesus

posted 4:57:42am Aug. 24, 2012 | read full post »

Vow-Keeping Faith
When the ancients spoke of faith, they used a word that described a signature on a contract or a title deed. Faith was the oath that lay beneath such a document. A buyer may not have yet taken full possession of the property, but the closing documents gave them the faith that they one day would. Fa

posted 4:53:56am Aug. 21, 2012 | read full post »

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